What is an Occupancy Permit?

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Whether you are building a new home or a structure for a new business, you must follow building regulations in your area. One of these requirements is to have the structure inspected and issued an occupancy permit.

While the requirements are different depending on which city or state you live in, the premise is essentially the same. If you plan to occupy a structure, you have to apply with the government entity and show the purpose of doing so.

Want to learn more about what an occupancy permit is and how to get one in your area? Read on to find out the requirements.

What is an Occupancy Permit?

In essence, an occupancy permit is a legal document that shows that a building has been inspected and deemed safe to occupy. Meaning, whether it is a new building or one that has been reassigned for a different purpose, it has to meet certain criteria before you can inhabit it.

When it comes to moving into a building for the first time, it is your responsibility to make sure that everything is done correctly. This includes ensuring that you have an occupancy permit that covers three specific items.

Are you curious about what should be included on your occupancy permit? Read on below to learn more.

Property Specificity

One piece of information that should be included on the occupancy permit is the purpose of the building itself. This means what the building will be used for during the length of time it is to be occupied.

Code Verification

Also included on the permit of occupancy is the verification that the building is up to the codes set by government officials. This is further proof that the building has been inspected by the proper authorities.

Confirmation of Occupancy

The final piece of information that will be included on the occupancy certificate is the confirmation by the government entity that it is safe to inhabit the building. This information lets the occupant and other officials know that the building has been inspected and can be inhabited.

When is an Occupancy Permit Required?

Another question people often ask is when they need to look into getting an occupancy permit for the building. This question does not have a quick answer since many factors go into determining whether or not you need a new permit.

In most cases, if you are making minor renovations to your home or business, then you will not need to apply for a new permit. However, there are a few other reasons you may need to get the building inspected before you can occupy it.

Depending on where you live, if you sell a property or rent it out, you may be required to apply for an occupancy permit. This often means that if you rent the property many times over the years, some cities or states require you to file a new application each time.

Another reason for having an occupancy permit is if you have completed construction on a new building. The building inspectors will have to come in and make sure that everything is in good working order before anyone can move into the property.

Keep in mind that if you have recently renovated your property, whether it is your home or business, beyond the minor repairs, you may have to also file for a new occupancy permit. This is especially true if you have either completed a new addition to the building or have rehabbed an older building.

Finally, it is important to remember that each building is typically zoned as a certain type of building by the local zoning department. This means that if you decide to take a home from a single-family to a multi-family by adding on to it, you will be required to reapply for an occupancy permit.

How Do You Get an Occupancy Permit?

Once you have determined whether or not you need an occupancy permit, you can then begin the process of learning how to get one. This usually entails doing a bit of research to find where in your city you need to go to get this done.

For most cities, there is a city government website that will help you to locate the building zoning department. You can also ask around if you have trouble finding the exact location since there are likely many professionals in your area that can help you find the right place.

In most cases, the website for your city zoning department will have all of the information you need to know to get your occupancy permit. Depending on where you live, the rules and regulations may be more strict than in other states.

Are you wondering what getting an occupancy permit entails? Keep reading to find out.

Application Process

The first step in getting a permit of occupancy is to fill out the application that is required and submit it and any other documents they ask for. In most cases, the required documents include your tax identification number, articles of incorporation, building lease or sale contract, and possibly more.

The reason for these requirements is that the department of zoning wants to ensure that you are indeed the one who will occupy the building and that everything is legal. Once they have proved that you are legally able to inhabit the building, then they will consider your application.

In some locations, you may also be required to provide the department with other information such as your hours of operation, products you may be housing in the building, the number of employees, and more.

Inspection Process

Once your application has been accepted and the required documents are turned in and verified, they will then begin the inspection process. This often requires more than one inspection since different inspectors look for different things.

For the most part, they want to know that you comply with all of the fire and safety codes that exist in the area. They also want to verify that the building is fit for what you have said it would be used for.

Since there are similar regulations on a building that is either used for commercial or residential purposes, there may be multiple inspections that are required. Once the inspections have been done, then you will likely be issued an occupancy certificate and can legally inhabit the building.

What Happens When the Use of the Building Changes?

It is important to keep in mind that an occupancy certificate is only good for the current state of a building. This means that if you choose to alter the building in some way, you may be required to apply for a new permit.

While it is not required when you make minor renovations to your building, if you are making major renovations, it is important to keep this in mind. The best rule of thumb is that if you are making a major structural change to the building, it will need to be inspected before it is inhabited.

If you happen to sell the building or lease it out to someone else, you may be required to file for a new occupancy permit as well. This is because the original permit states that you will occupy the building for a certain purpose, which may change with someone else in the building.y

In most cases, if you sell the property to someone else, it is their responsibility to go through the application and inspection process to get an occupancy permit. However, if you are still the owner and are just leasing the property, you are required to get a new permit that reflects what it will be used for.

How Much Does it Cost to Get an Occupancy Permit?

When it comes to getting an occupancy permit, many people also want to know how much it will cost them to do this. The short answer is that the cost will vary depending on where you live and what type of property you have.

In some cities, you are required to pay various fees such as application fees, safety inspection fees, and then fees per square foot of the building itself. Since the local government entities are in charge of the regulations, the fees can vary from city to city and state to state.

The best way to find out how much it will cost to get an occupancy permit in your area is to contact the zoning department or go to their website. In most locations, you will be able to find all the information you need this way.

The bottom line is that since states and even cities have different regulations, it is difficult to say how much you may pay for your occupancy permit. While this is true, it should be pretty easy to find out the exact amount once you begin your conversations with the right authorities.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "What is an Occupancy Permit?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on February 8, 2023. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-occupancy-permit/.

  • "What is an Occupancy Permit?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-occupancy-permit/. Accessed 8 February, 2023

  • What is an Occupancy Permit?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-occupancy-permit/.